Greetings. On a beautiful fall morning in 2006, a walk to the school bus with our daughter Carly, who was nine at the time, would challenge my thinking about life and the real keys to personal and business success. It was a walk that my wife and I made almost every school day, but on this particular morning, Carly and I would pass someone we’d never seen in our neighborhood before…a middle-aged gentleman who looked more than slightly disheveled, somewhat distraught, and, from my overly protective parental perspective, potentially dangerous. So once we were out of listening distance, I turned to Carly and said: “You know sweetheart, Mamma and Papa won’t always be able to walk you to the school bus. So we’d like you to promise us that when you are walking by yourself you won’t talk to strangers.” It seemed like an important and necessary thing to say, especially at that moment. And it was something my parents had told me when I was Carly’s age at a time when the world was a whole lot safer.
Yet I could never have imagined her response as she looked up at me and said: “But Papa, if I don’t talk to strangers, how will I ever make new friends? And how will I ever learn new things?”
Her simple words would quickly challenge me to recall all of the “strangers” who had changed my life in some meaningful way.
Sara, Carly (w/ the trombone), and Noah on a fall day.
And they would also spark the idea for my new book, “The Necessity of Strangers,” which should be available wherever thoughtful books are sold by the beginning of next week. The book begins by sharing the special magic of some of the most important strangers I have ever met and then asks readers to think about the most important strangers in their own lives and the powerful roles that strangers might play in our future success by:
- Sparking new conversations and new ways of thinking
- Inspiring new possibilities
- Given us fresh and honest input
- Opening new doors, and
- Helping each of us to discover and unlock more of our unique potential.
In the weeks ahead I’d love to use the book to start a conversation with all of you about the necessity of strangers and I’d also love learn some of your stories about strangers who have made a difference in your lives. And I’ll plan to share lots of ideas and practical tools to help you and your companies and organizations to connect with and learn from the right strangers.
We win in business and in life when we get past our aversion to strangers. And when we come to realize that strangers are more vital to our personal and professional success than we ever imagined.